“SQUIRREL!”

Dug, the 'Talking' Dog

Dug, the 'Talking' Dog

Up, a new Disney/Pixar animated movie coming out on May 29th, looks to be loads of fun. It features the story of Carl Fredricksen who spent his entire life dreaming of exploring the globe. But at age 78, life seems to have passed him by, until a twist of fate (and a persistent 8-year old Wilderness Explorer named Russell) gives him a new lease on life.

But, let me set it up. If you are a true dog lover and honestly understand what motivates them, then the exclamation

“SQUIRREL!”

is very easy to understand. If I see a squirrel on our patio (before Golden Retriever Alfie manages to), all I have to do is plainly, almost whispering, say “Squirrel” and he comes running to take action. I have to tell him to calm himself because loud barking does tend to scare the critter away. He tries very hard to contain himself as he lies down at the window to begin his guard, even though sometimes he begins whimpering in frustration.

Well, in this upcoming movie, Up, there are talking dogs. But, what is great about this film is that the director, Pete Docter, wants to capture the true essence of dogs.

Yeah. I mean, there’ve been a lot of talking-dog movies, but I don’t think anybody’s really approached it this way, which is to think as much as we could about, like, what would a real dog [say]? What’s important to a real dog? “Squirrel!” You know, it’s those things of food and …

The main talking dog, Dug, happens to have a fleeting attention span that is very easily distracted by squirrels, and there is an hilarious reoccurring squirrel gag that plays throughout the film.

We all know that dogs cannot really talk, but the movie supplies a smart and somewhat logical twist. Dug has a collar around his neck, made for him by his human, allowing us to hear his thoughts. It’s exactly like if you were to give a voice to a dog, which is what Dean Koontz has successfully done with his Golden Retriever penned, Trixie books.

The instant change in body language and expression on Dug’s face when his collar exclaims, “Squirrel!” is priceless, and definitely the one we have come to recognize in our own dogs. You will see it in the trailer below (at about 1:20 in).

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This fun picture book, Up: My Name is Dug, which comes out on April 14th, is based on the film. A friendly canine named Dug has been given a special order by his master. He must find a rare, exotic bird called Kevin in the middle of the Amazon rain forest.

Luckily, Dug can speak, thanks to his state of the art talking dog collar. So when Dug gets distracted by squirrels, some other “talking” dogs, jungle creatures, and of course, Russell and Carl, the stars of the film, he turns to the reader for help. Children should love helping Dug on his search for Kevin, who will be cleverly hidden on each spread in the book.